In September of 1969, Walter Zulak organized a dozen or so alumni of a high school/minor seminary in Roblin, Manitoba into a male chorus, known quite appropriately as the St. Vladimir’s College Alumni Choir. It was at St. Vladimir’s College, under the leadership and direction of Dr. Paul Macenko, that new life and understanding had been breathed into a forgotten tradition for these young men. Inspired by their instruction and instructors at the college, the objectives the alumni choir were clear: to encourage, promote, and preserve their Ukrainian heritage as part of the mosaic that makes up Canada’s rich culture.
Their original performing venues were the various Ukrainian Catholic Parishes in Winnipeg and rural Manitoba, where they were best known for singing of the Divine Liturgy, social events, and concerts. In May of 1973, having performed widely in Manitoba, as well as in Saskatoon and Kenora, the group traveled to perform concerts in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1975, they joined with a dance troupe and popular band, “The About Five” (also with roots from St. Vladimir’s College), and formed the group Hoosli. The name, suggested by Dr. Macenko but unfamiliar to many, is that of an ancient instrument similar to a zither.
Things moved quickly along after that, and highlights of the 70’s include:
- The release of their first recording in the spring of 1976
- A concert tour of Saskatchewan in the fall of 1976
- A California concert tour of San Diego and Los Angeles in 1977
The 1970’s came to a close with the celebration of Hoosli’s 10th Anniversary and an appearance in “Feast of Koliada”, a part of a CBC national television series, “Musicamera”.